Position: European B2B marketing manager, Sony Europe
Date of Birth: 03/07/1983
With responsibilities spanning Sony Europe’s Professional broadcast products and a budget of €3.5m, Robb is a rising star in business-to-business marketing. He has already won creative accolades for the ‘Extra.Ordinary’ campaign, which used original content to target top-level influencers across social-media channels.
Describes himself as: inquisitive.
Q: What attracted you to marketing as a profession?
A: From an early age, I spent way too much time analysing things. Whether it was a friend scratching his face during a poker game or me constantly screwing up the punchlines of jokes, I always had to know why. If I knew that, I might be able to change the outcome next time. Marketing is a natural progression from this. Get inside the heads of people, learn why they behave the way they do and use this to form your message.
Q: What are the biggest marketing challenges you face?
A: I would say it is how quickly information spreads, and therefore how dynamic you have to be as a marketing team. You can plan for certain scenarios playing out, but often you’re making decisions on the fly. And as consumers are now engaging with the human side of brands more than ever before (via public tweets and Facebook replies), it’s easy to slip up every now and then when individuals are – quite rightly –responding to customers with little or no filter process. The slightest mistake could potentially be publically shared with thousands or more in a matter of minutes, and become an unwanted PR headache. My advice is to keep faith with the human side of the process but, as you would with a trusted team of copywriters, make sure the right company values are instilled in the selected few.
Q: Describe your typical day.
A: I spend more time than I’d like to keeping an eye on our marketing budget to ensure spend is planned, forecasted, approved, spent and then finally, measured. I’ve become more of an orchestrator of our activities these days, so a lot of my day is made up of planning campaigns, briefing agencies and keeping internal stakeholders up to speed with the ever-changing campaigns. I make time to meet up and engage with our real-life customers as, ultimately, being around them gives me the insight to know what we do marketing-wise is the right way forward.
Q: What are the biggest trends affecting your business?
A: In the world of professional camcorders and cameras for TV and film, bloggers and freelance industry influencers have become an interesting topic in recent years. Traditionally, when we released a product or made an announcement we would look to primarily engage with journalists from known publications via press conferences, interviews and press releases. However, the landscape has expanded; we now need to consider and cater to individuals who have a very powerful and influential voice in the market, but no real experience of PR protocols. Managing these guys is a whole new ball game and any best practices learned are often updated just a few weeks later.
Q: Are there any trends or new media platforms you believe are overrated?
A: There are a few I question, and I’m sure many I’m simply not up to speed with yet, but, on the whole, I think every platform and tool has its forté. The trick is in knowing which one suits your need and not trying to shoehorn your message into something that doesn’t fit. Or, worse still, changing your message to make it fit for the sake of it.
Q: How are you changing the media channels you use to better reach your consumers?
A: The obvious answer is social media. But we have been careful to not jump in blindly. We have made sure to just share the most relevant and appropriate content with our ever-growing base of fans and followers. We recently launched a short-film competition and primarily used our social-media channels to communicate the campaign, starting with an organic push and then adding paid promotion at a later date. The results have been fantastic. Social media has also enabled us to easier pinpoint the spikes in interest and establish probable reasons for them.
Q: What are your most admired brands and why?
A: I’m a big fan of Graze.com. Not only do I love the product, but the all round user experience has been hugely positive and seems thoroughly thought-out. The tone of its communication, the colours and pictures used on the site, the delivery process – it’s all exactly in tune with how I assume its target audience (of which I am one) wants to receive the product. This is a simple service – one that many other companies could offer – made unique by the way Graze.com has marketed it. I also have to mention Red Bull, which, especially via the Red Bull Stratos project, engages with and inspires its target audience through jaw-dropping, adrenalin-fuelled content.
Q: What skills do you think are most important to get ahead in marketing today?
A: Empathy. You need to understand your customer as an individual. No longer will a marketing campaign start and finish with a multimillion-pound TV commercial or, in the b2b world, a big trade exhibition. Knowing your customer and keeping them engaged throughout the lifecycle of a product or service is critical in today’s world where consumers have what seems to be a bigger choice than ever. Understand them better than your competitor and you’ll be amazed how much they will forgo to stay with you.